This year, for the first time on the ecotopia biketour, part of the tour was LGBTQIA+ & FLINTA only (non-mixed, without hetero cis men). For the first 3 weeks of the tour, hetero cis men were not invited to join the tour. The other 9 weeks of the tour are open to all genders and sexual orientations, including hetero cis men.
More about the reasons behind this decision are here, but a short summary goal of the would be: An attempt at a creation of a temporary space with less sexism/heterosexism/cissexism, with the hope that it would have a positive impact on the power dynamics within the group for the rest of the tour.
The Biketour in 2021
In a feedback round from the 2021 tour, it was noticed that the gender of the participants was mostly 60 to 80% male.
From this came discussions about what the definition of gender imbalance is, noticing of the pattern of mostly cis-men repeatingly joining the tour, dynamics in the group during the tour and that even at the organisation level there was a problem with gender imbalance.
all these factors were picked apart and analysed and suggestions made about how to address this imbalance and create an empowering structure for the 2022 tour, and from this came the idea of a LGBTQIA+ & FLINTA start to the biketour
Some personal thoughts from one person who joined the start
This year‘s Ecotopian biketour started in Amsterdam and is heading to Marseille.
The goal to broaden the gender & queer diversity in the first three weeks were a success!
It’s now 26 days after the start and we‘re staying in a beautiful forest near Trier, where the „Besch bleibt“ project is based.
In and around the huge selfbuilt tower in the middle of the forest you hear chattering, guitar tunes and laughters…
Already a lot happened these last days, everyday brings new adventures!
There were challenges on the way, like some very hot, sunny days, climbing mountains with a fully packed trailer, building rocket stoves or being attacked by wasps! But that’s all part of the adventure! And the nice and caring atmosphere in the group, the afternoons of comic sessions and skill-sharing completed the wonderful Ecotopian experience…
Feedback from the 2022 LGBTQIA+ & FLINTA Biketour Start
These notes come from a circle about the transition and closure of the Flinta-Queer period, 30 July 2022 France.
-Starting the tour with a Flinta-queer space has encouraged people to take tasks and responsabilities that could feel intimidating in a shared space with cis-hetero men. This was clearly exposed during the transition, where everyone said to feel comfortable, confident and empowered thanks to the background of the group.
-The knowledge hierarchies were easier to defeat due to the experience we already had. And with that, less opportunity for mansplaining
-People that were during the flinta-queer period, and people that joined afterwards agreed that the begginingg of the tour established a more horizontal dynamic.
-People participating in past bike-tours said to feel a clear difference in the group ambient, more welcoming, confortable and safe space.
-Apart from having a only flinta-queer period, we agreed to keep flinta-queer circles along the whole route. And to keep the tools that were developed, such as the awareness group.
-we pointed our that it helped to avoid toxic masculine dynamics, and to put effort in creating a safe space, bring the group together (with games, activities, workshops…) This created a more inclusive group. It was shared that the group was welcoming for different ages.
-it was relieving to take the decision of asking one male participant to leave. It did help to preserves the safe space. (backstory: there was problems with one man who repeatably made sexist and transphobic comments and didn’t want to deal with his shitty behaviours).
Despite many good comment, there was also some critic:
– As a group we have to work better in dealing with transphobic comments and not assuming pronouns.
-The tour was a very white space, we could work in being more accessible for BIPoC
– To the incoming cishetero men There are still actitudes and comments that can’t be accepted.
Ecotopia has been a place to learn about and challenge certain oppressions. It has a great potential to be a safeplace